For the last couple of decades, like most of my physician colleagues of my generation, I haven’t had a whole lot to do with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Having passed the MRCP examination in the early 1990s, my only regular dealings with them has been an annual last-minute scramble to enter CPD activities on their website.
The only reminder I might have got of College activities could be seeing photographs of RCPI conferring ceremonies in the events sections of medical press publications like this one. Pictures of established-looking, slightly older physicians in College gowns and ties, looking rather pleased with themselves as they handed out scrolls to new Members or Fellows. “Beware,” Thoreau once said, “of any venture that requires new clothes.”
Overall, my impression of the RCPI was one of a rather austere, conservative and Dublin-centric sort of establishment without a whole lot to offer a physician like me.
The culchie in me also admits to being a little intimidated by portraits of the elder lemons of Irish medicine that adorn the walls of its imposing building on Kildare Street. The physicians captured in those oil paintings looked how I might have imagined my MRCP examiners to have looked (before I had actually met them); imposing, aristocratic, intolerant of imperfection (I had more than one attempt at MRCP) and a little stuffy